Some Good News: Forests Are Being Restored

by Rona Fried 

Lately we have written some depressing articles about a return to deforestation in the Amazon and about widespread degradation of the world’s forests.

We don’t enjoy being the bearer of bad news and it’s just as hard for us to write as it is for you to read it. Believe me, there’s plenty more bad news in other forests, in Indonesia and much of south Asia.

But here’s some good news – whew! Nations have committed to restoration projects that add up to 147 million acres – close to half the goal of 350 million acres by 2020.

The announcement was made at last week’s Bonn Challenge conference in Germany. New projects announced at the conference: El Salvador is launching a restoration partnership for Central America; the Great Green Wall is growing in Africa; and cooperative agreements between businesses and governments are progressing in Southeast Asia.

Planting the Great Green Wall, an amazing wall of trees and vegetation that will span the continent, below the southern edge of the Sahara.

Africa Great Green Wall

Last fall, 30 countries signed the NY Declaration on Forests, which increased the acreage and set a goal to eliminate deforestation by 2030. In December, Initiative 20X20 launched, to restore 20 million hectares in Latin America by 2020, and it is close to achieving the commitments to make it happen.

Besides saving countless species from extinction, "We are now at the point where just reducing emissions will not be enough," to stave off climate change, says Tine Sundtoft, Norway’s Minister of Climate and Environment. "We must actively remove carbon out of the atmosphere. Forest restoration is the most cost-effective carbon capture option we have."

Achieving the restoration goal would generate $170 billion a year in net benefits from watershed protection, improved crop yields and forest products, in addition to carbon sequestration, concludes New Climate Economy. It would reduce the gap in emissions reductions needed by 11-17%, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

"Political and financial momentum is building across every continent,"  says Andrew Steer, CEO of the World Resources Institute, which co-hosted the event.

Read our article, Rewilding Europe Shows How We Can Reverse Mounting Species Loss.

Map of world forests with potential to be restored:

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